Gadgets
Copenhogan-wheel-electric-hybrid
Copenhagen Bike Wheel Makes Your Bicycle An Electric Hybrid

Pedal-assits made its debut back in 2009 at the UN Climate Conference, promising us innovating tools to help reduce air pollution. The project aimed to capture the dissipated energy as you cycle and reuse that energy to give you a little push when you need it to make your journey easier and more enjoyable. Back then there was no talk of smart phones and open APIs, but judging by the company’s announcement earlier today, that might have changed since.

Overview

Instead of trying and replacing your current bike, the company has decided to just replace your back wheel in order to make it more cost effective and appealing to the mass market. The back wheel consists of a GPRS, motor, 3- speed gear and a few other sensory kits that tell you all about your surrounding. This information may include a wide range of information ranging from your speed to the COx level. Don’t worry though, unlike other pedal assists all cables and wiring are hidden inside a beautiful hub.

The batteries don’t need to be charged as they are designed to capture the dissipated energy as you cycle and break through the trip. The batteries will then release this captured energy to give you a little push when you need it (think hills and long rides). Of course you’ll be able to decide when, where and how much help you need from the motor via the smartphone apps.

Smart Phone Apps

No device is truly smart without having a smart phone app these days. Copenhagen Wheel embraces that and that’s why they have built their own iOS and Android apps that work with the smart wheel. All communication is done wirelessly so you don’t have to worry about getting down and dirty every time you want to sync your data.

Whats more the company has also developed a set of open APIs for developers to use in order to create their own applications using the data gather by the wheel. Cyclists will have the option of sharing their data anonymously in order to help towards creating a database on the city’s profile. They call this Urban Data.

copenhagen-wheel-app

Cons

There are two very important things that come to mind. While this product has very little to offer in terms of fresh technological advances, it has managed to bring a quality product to the market. Having said that, there are two very major concerns that come to mind immediately after reading the press release on their website.

  1. iPhone Controlled Wheel: While I understand this is varies from person to person, the company should not be encouraging full control from smartphones, during a trip. What if we decide we need more push from the motor? we have to go to the app and make the adjustments there. Not much different that texting/calling and driving. Is it?
  2. The wheel weighs 15kg: I was speaking to a colleague of mine today and he was complaining about how heavy his bike was. A few minutes into the conversation I found that the bike weighed under 10kg, but he was still considering selling the current one and opting for a lighter model. I can’t think of that many people who are willing to more than double the weight of their bicycles.

Conclusion

I might consider buying the smart wheel if it costed and weighed a little less. Right now it’s selling for $699 and is expected to start shipping early 2014 if everything goes well, but we all know how common hiccups are. Specially with young and unseasoned companies!  Having said that, the team has done an amazing job developing such great product. They haven’t just designed a wheel but the infrastructure and backbone needed to collect and analyse the data it collects. That’s something Apple seems to need help with.